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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

42                                 LIFE  OF
depth, to shake the earth here and there, or to explode
with flame and glowing lava through its safety-valves,
the volcanic craters. And Humboldt taught us to
understand all this I
"We will now follow the vessel 011 which Humboldt
and his friend were travelling over the sea, on their
course to central America,
On the way the travellers occupied themselves
principally with the sea winds, which became more
equable the nearer they approached tbe African coast.
The mildness of the climate and the calmness of tho
scenery here., increased the charm of the journey ; and
when Humboldt had reached the northern regions of
the Cape Verd Tslands, the great swimming seaweeds
attracted his attention : they form banks of marine
plants, and are probably rooted in the bottom of tho
sea, as branches eight hundred feet long" have been
found. But the human mind has also itn claims ou
such a long voyage; wherever tho eye turnw it HOOB
waves, clouds, or sky ; it longs for the sight of familiar
objects. The ship's crew seeks a strange porsoii,—-it
would like to hear a voice from a strange mouth—
from another country. It is therefore always a joyful,
occurrence if another vessel passes ; all runlx to tlio
deck; they call, ask the name and destination, sign to
each other, and mutually vanish from each other's
horizon. The scientific labours of Humboldt nu<l his
companion, spite of the rich matter of new and un-
usual things which every day brought thoin, could
not repress the emotions of his mind. Humboldt alno
rejoiced to see a sail appear on the distant horixou,
but he felt the first pain of the mariner when gradu-
ally the mast and the remains of a .shipwrecked nhip
covered with seaweed hove in sight; tho wreck iloatod
on like a grass-covered grave: where might ho tho
remains of those who expired in the destroying storm,
with a last struggle for their life! Those feelings
involuntarily obtruded themselves oil the travellers.
But a beautiful, inspiring sight awaited Humboldt.
In the night of the 4-5 Julyj* under tho sixteenth